Posts Tagged ‘Family’

It is a sea­son of changes.  Not only is the weather cool­ing, life is chang­ing here.

Ben­jamin, my only child (my baby!), has gone off to col­lege at The Citadel.  He is the third gen­er­a­tion on his dad’s side to attend col­lege there. When he grad­u­ates, he will wear “The Ring” with his dad, uncles, great uncles and cousins. He knew what to expect going there. He is well-prepared for the chal­lenge. And he seems to thrive on the manly cama­raderie of the place.

That still didn’t stop me from cry­ing for pretty much the first week while he was gone. The tears were drawn from a com­bi­na­tion of miss­ing him, wor­ry­ing about him and being dis­ori­ented by the new direc­tion of my life as an empty-nester.

sweet autumn clematis 1

Sweet autumn clema­tis blooms over the gar­den gate in September

I have stopped cry­ing now, but am still try­ing to nav­i­gate a life with a 50% reduc­tion in the num­ber of men I need to take care of on a daily basis.

In other changes, Harry has left pri­vate prac­tice and gone back to work for the gov­ern­ment. The book I was co-writing this sum­mer, Gro­cery Gar­den­ing, is finally off my desk. The six new baby chicks will be lay­ing in about another month–leaving us with 10 — 12 eggs a day to dis­pose of. And I have major new work and writ­ing assign­ments to keep me busy.

Oh, the garden?

garlic chives and pineapple sage 1

Gar­lic chives and pineap­ple sage duke it out in the herb bed

I can’t say this has been my most pro­duc­tive or metic­u­lous gar­den year. There were so many dis­trac­tions and chal­lenges that kept me out of the gar­den. Still, Mother Nature was for­giv­ing for just this year. The work from past years has paid off, as peren­ni­als con­tin­ued to bloom, flow­ers to re-seed and the over­all bones of the raised beds, fences and arbor to hold it all together. I don’t think I can con­tinue this type of neglect next year and still hold my head up as a gar­dener though.

fall-garden

The hakuro nashiki wil­low stan­dard needs a haircut–but then it ALWAYS seems to need a hair­cut. The tuteur is cov­ered with mal­abar spinach and scar­let run­ner beans.

Now, as weather cools and all these darned changes slow down just long enough for me to catch my breath, I am enjoy­ing being out in the gar­den, putting in fall veg­eta­bles and tidy­ing up for the win­ter to come.

fall-lettuces

I just broad­cast a mix of let­tuce seeds for this pretty lit­tle bed. What a treat to pick our sal­ads each night.

I’m actu­ally look­ing for­ward to win­ter now. I have a fancy new cold frame to put together this week­end. I’m set­ting up the light gar­den in the base­ment to grow micro­greens. Cook­ing projects, sewing projects, writ­ing projects and, of course, vis­its to The Citadel and Ben’s vis­its home are going to keep me busy.

amaranthe-and-henryi-clematis

That’s ama­ran­the lean­ing against the tuteur where the hen­ryi clema­tis grows.

Over­all, I’m still liv­ing the good life. It’s a life of tran­si­tions, but it’s a good life.

(You can click on an image for a larger ver­sion of the photo.)

Robin

Fam­ily din­ners have always been an impor­tant part of my life. Fam­ily din­ners with cake, espe­cially, have always been an impor­tant part of my life. And the best din­ners are those fea­tur­ing oat­meal cake with coconut topping.

I remem­ber as a kid my par­ents, broth­ers and I used to head over to my grand­par­ents’ house for Sun­day din­ner after church. All my aunts, uncles and numer­ous cousins would gather to tell out­ra­geous sto­ries, build and fix things (my fam­ily is always build­ing and fix­ing things) while my grand­mother cooked a tra­di­tional South­ern din­ner and my grand­fa­ther escaped to the gar­den to tend his roses.

My grandmother’s din­ners never had fewer than, say, 15 bowls and heap­ing plates on the table—fried chicken, col­lard greens, mashed pota­toes and gravy, oniony cole slaw, lima beans, angel bis­cuits, salty Vir­ginia ham, green beans. And the desserts. Oh, the desserts!

We would eat in shifts because there wasn’t enough room at the table for every­one. After­words, the women (no, never the men) would pitch in and clean the kitchen.

I remem­ber one Sun­day my Aunt Mar­garet had fin­ished up in the kitchen and decided to mop and wax my grandmother’s floor. I watched on, chat­ting, as she put the fin­ish­ing touches and finally man­aged to wax her way into a corner.

Oh no! Here I am in this cor­ner and the floor’s all wet. I guess I’ll just stand here until it’s dry,” she declared.

No! You can just walk out and wax over your foot­steps,” I said, my five-year-old self proud of com­ing up with the solution.

Of course, my Aunt Mar­garet was always the kid­der and had let me come up with the solu­tion. Still, it’s a fond memory—well, that and the cake.

My hus­band loves this cake so much he nearly dances when he real­izes that I have made one. And he keeps saying—over and over again—“Have I men­tioned how much I love this cake?”

Now, if this chocolate-loving gal says that she loves an oat­meal cake, you can take it to the bank that this is a good cake. And it’s one of those amaz­ing cakes that only get bet­ter with time.

So make it now and make some­one happy.

Oat­meal Cake with Coconut Top­ping
1 1/4 cup boil­ing water
1 cup old fash­ioned oats
8 table­spoons (1 stick) but­ter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tea­spoon bak­ing soda
1 tea­spoon cin­na­mon
1 1/3 cups flour
pinch of salt

Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour boil­ing water over oats and let stand for 15 min­utes. In a mixer, cream together but­ter, white and brown sug­ars. Add eggs. In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix together bak­ing soda, cin­na­mon, flour and salt. Grad­u­ally add the flour mix­ture to the sugar, but­ter and egg mix­ture until well blended. Stir in the oatmeal/water mix­ture until well com­bined. Pour into a 9 x 13″ bak­ing pan. (I use a Pyrex bak­ing pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min­utes or until a knife inserted into the mid­dle comes out clean. Top with top­ping after the cake cools for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Coconut Top­ping
8 table­spoons (1 stick) but­ter (brought to room tem­per­a­ture)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh grated coconut
1 tea­spoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 cup milk

Blend all the ingre­di­ents together until well mixed. Pour over warm (but not hot) cake and spread evenly.

___________________

By the way, if you haven’t voted on a chicken name for The Chicken For­merly Known as Min­nie Ruth, please do so now.  I really don’t want to name this chicken Johnny.

Robin

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, will be released later in 2014 from Taunton Press.

Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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